I was very excited when this title, Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania, appeared in a box of advance readers' copies! I've read two previous Erik Larson titles, Isaac's Storm and In the Garden of Beasts, so I knew this would be an interesting read.
No judgment please, but I had forgotten the complete history of the Lusitania; I started reading this without a recollection of the full story. And another thing that a reader gets with an Erik Larson book--an excellent sense of impending doom. I don't always like the feeling, but it definitely keeps the reader reading!
Mr. Larson tells Dead Wake from several sides: the Germans and their U boat directives; the British Admiralty and their decisions about passenger/merchant ships and protection under wartime conditions; the Lusitania's captain, William Thomas Turner, and the passengers. I felt that I received a very full sense of what was going on with WWI at that specific time (May 1915), and with each of these sides as the Lusitania sailed across the Atlantic.
I was surprised (remember, no judgment) and saddened by the Lusitania's torpedoing and sinking, though I did suspect what was going to happen. The sequence of events were suspenseful, very descriptive, but matter-of-fact in tone.
The resulting actions of the Cunard Steamship Company, Ltd and the Admiralty of the Royal Navy were appalling to me, especially against the captain of the ship. I do understand that it was wartime, but the trials and secrecy and rush to judgment immediately following the loss of the ship vs delayed final resolution was mind-boggling.
I highly recommend Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania
and the other mentioned above by Erik Larson. May all your travels be safe ones.
Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson
Crown Publishing, March 10, 2015, 9780307408860